Friday, February 28, 2014

The FlyBuys.

I was very anti flybuys for years. I thought, I hate cards, I don't want my spending tracked. Well, I don't have to have a card because I just stuck the barcode on the back of my paywave card with sticky tape, and I figure when I pay with credit or eftpos my spending is tracked anyway.

Now I have actually started changing my spending because of flybuys. I use those vouchers for points when you spend a certain amount on fresh food. The amount is always carefully calibrated against my normal spending to raise it by a small amount. So one week I eat a lot veggies (spend $14 to get 175 points), the next week I stock up on cheese or meat. I CAN'T HELP MYSELF.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Article of my week:

No, I'm not talking about the hilarious one about the Expedit I facebooked, which you can read too if you like.

This one about Gen Y maybe wanting to leave the inner cities, against all the trends.

I wouldn't say I ever missed the suburbs, but I'm trying to see the bright side now. I'm sadly giving up my carfree lifestyle and figuring out which car to buy. Enjoying my walking-distance-from-the-beach location every swimming-weather day I can, before I go inland. Even breaking my No Takeaway rule because the days of easy access to cheap asian food are slipping through my fingers.

But on the bright side, there will be a vast improvement in my finances—the proportion of my income spent on rent will be reduced and even buying a place will be within reach one day. I'll be able to own and play a real piano as loudly as I like, no shared walls. I'll have a front door that goes outside instead of onto a corridor. I may even have a BACK door! I may have access to dirt I can grow things in, instead of a concreted common driveway area. This is all stuff I can live without, and have lived happily without, but they are upsides.

Should watch Hart of Dixie again.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Declutter: sell vs give

I sold my freezer on gumtree, woohoo! And then found out a friend would have bought it if I'd just put it on facebook. Oh well! I am actually glad I dipped my toe in the world of selling things online because it's a crucial skill in decluttering.

I'm reading the blog Miss Minimalist a lot, and found a good post about selling vs donating. Good guidelines to be efficient at decluttering when you think you should try and recoup the money you've spent on stuff, but it's so much easier to just donate it. Personally I'm very lazy/efficient and prefer to donate, but sometimes it's obvious that I could make some money back if I went through a little bit of bother just listing it online, which was the case with the freezer after years of indecision and using it as a cupboard for extension cords and vacuum cleaner heads.

No loss.

Something I've noticed about getting rid of things is that I don't notice the absence as much as I expect. Which is a pro and a con. A pro because it proves it wasn't at all essential in my life. A con because I had higher expectations of how much I'd love the empty space... you just get used to it though.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Tall skirts.

Long skirts. I have two, a dark blue/grey one and a bright red/cream one, and they get worn a fair bit. I've jelssied the wonders of the long skirt before, but I'm freshly enamoured.
  • Excellent in the rain. When they get wet, they aren't directly against your legs like trousers. The fabric dries faster too.
  • Great for summer days when you haven't shaved your legs.
  • Comfortable and unrestrictive.
  • Convenient for sitting on the ground or curling up your legs in the car.
  • Safe in strong winds!
  • Stairs can be a hazard, you can step on your skirt going up stairs, so please be ladylike and gather your skirts up, which is fun.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Smart financial decisions I have made.

I'm a long way from being a finance guru, but my frugalness means I keep an ear out. The Barefoot Investor and Alan Kohler are handy people to pay attention to. They speak plainly. So here are three things I've actually done as per general advice/advertising. Each one involved filling out a form.

Starting a First Home Saver Account. I ummed and ahhed for a year or two when they first started. I disliked the idea of being locked in for 4 years and then if I can never afford property the money is locked up forever. But they loosened the restrictions a bit, and I decided I'd wasted 2 years and could have been halfway through the time already so I might as well stop faffing around. So what if I never buy and it only ends up in my super, the return is still great. If you save $6000 in one financial year, the governments adds $1020. That is a LOT of free money. One year I forgot to put the whole amount in and I am still grumpy about it. So even if you don't think you're in the "first home buyer" category, I say take the plunge before the end of June. No term deposit will give you over 17%.

Opening an ING Everyday account for the 5% cash back on paywaves. 5% doesn't look like much, dribbling in a couple of dollars at a time, but when the 6 months is up, I will count up what my 5% savings adds up to.!/CashbackSavings

Thirdly, I switched my super into a high-risk high-growth investment. Because that's what you are supposed to do when you are under 35, and as you get older it shifts into progressively safer investments. No short-term benefits there but it's the proper thing to do. Although in a few years I think it will be the default anyway.

Culling guilts.

One of the blind spots I have traditionally had when decluttering is gifts. If someone gives me something, I never get rid of it. But this time I am being a little bit more ruthless. If I got given it several or more years ago, that's enough time for me to enjoy it.

If I feel guilty about getting rid of something I never used/wore, one thing I do is give it a "last chance" month. Get it out, use it, wear it. If I can't make myself wear it, I know I can resign myself to getting rid of it. One last shot at lowering the cost-per-use.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Poorgeois.

I discovered this term last week. I love it, why didn't I know about it before? It's a lot better than hipster. Poorgeois is like bourgeois but the opposite. It's the middle class trying to look not wealthy but poor. Trendy poor. Think stubbly beards and new boots that look old. This trend is an excellent place for frugal people to flourish.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Decluttering is a state of mind.

I have crystalised a thought. I will resist decluttering for others and resist joining them and helping when they ask.

I have always enjoyed decluttering, and even when I was a teenager I got $20 to clean up some friend's kids bedroom. Which was easy money because I found it satisfying. But whenever I've done that that, gone in like the marines, I think it hasn't made any long term difference. People need to do it for themselves, and have their own motivation to see change. If I DC for someone else it is counter-productive because DC is a state of mind. And there is great joy to be found in gaining control of stuff for yourself. Gaining control is the drug that motivates you to keep going! I shouldn't steal that from anyone.

Maybe I'll change my mind, maybe there are people who have the DC state of mind but just need more arms, or a second perspective as they throw things away, or something. But no! It's better to teach a man to fish than go fishing for him. I really want to draw a comic or something about decluttering.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Best of facebook.

I don't love facebook, but I can't kick the habit. But there are many things that make it worthwhile, so it's a habit I don't mind.

I've got a facebook friend, my family and his family were super close when we were little. Lived around the corner, played every day, until I was about 10 and my family moved to Maitland. His older sister was my first best friend and we were inseparable, so moving was cruel, but I did get my own room instead of sharing with 3 siblings. Anyway, we're all grown up now and he's married and living somewhere in the central west. He is one of those happy people. I find him very hilarious, so it's a shame I don't get to see him in real life. But from facebook, what comes across is his joy in life: appreciation of the small things, and general way of living a simple life in an adventurous way. He documented the time his wife's horse fell down a well. He learnt to bread. His pregnant wife asleep on a bean bag. He found a baby chicken hatched from an abandoned egg. I love his life. I think that is the best stuff on facebook.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Rachel Khoo. This girl has great style.

  • Copy someone. Rachel Khoo, or Sheldon Cooper, or Zoe Hart, or Sherlock Holmes, or Clara Oswald, or an actual person you know, or a blogger. Be realistic, though. I'm not going to successfully copy Taylor Swift. But imitation is an excellent shortcut to success. It's just about vision, really. And it'll be different because it's on you.
  • Pick one colour, any colour, and dress in it. Dye your hair in it. Everyone knows The Purple Lady. I'm not bold enough but I admire her spirit and it must make life VERY easy, re shopping and matching outfits.
  • Pick a couple of colours that go together and stick with them, eg navy blue, grey and white. I've tried this when packing for holidays and it's brilliant. Just packed blueish things. So easy to get dressed. But I'm too fickle to ban the majority of colours from my life. I even have yellow! Although I have banned pastels.
  • Pick a neutral colour and wear a fair bit of it amongst your other fickle colour choices. Black or grey or white or navy etc ties a broad palette together and makes bright colours POP.
  • Pick a shop. Shops tend to have a consistant style. Millers. Khatmandu. Cue. Tree of Life. I used to rely on Colorado. Life was simpler then.
It really makes it easier to be put clothes on if you know what you're trying to look like, and it makes you shop with discrimination.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's not that hard to eat healthy.

I googled "salad for work" today. (This was the first result.) I despair that healthy food recipes always looks so gourmet and unattainable. It's got fancy grains (Bulgar wheat??) or it's got figs and beetroot that didn't come from a tin. I'm sure it's delicious AND healthy, but I'm so intimidated by recipes with SEPARATE HERBS that if I didn't already have "basic healthy food skillz" I would give up and buy KFC already. I'm thankful that I know how to cut up a carrot and dip it in hommus. I'm glad that I can make a sandwich with cheese and tomato. Also, I can toast baked beans between two slices of bread in a sandwich press. I am able to peel a banana. It's boring, I know, but these things are healthy plus EASY plus CHEAP. That's good enough most days. I don't think TV chefs and food magazines do very much at all to improve the eating habits of non-cooks. They're for people who already love cooking food and are interested in doing it really well. The rest of us just want to put food into our mouths with as little effort as possible.

Lucky red packets

It's Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year to be politically correct). I've received some lei si (aka lucky red envelopes/packets), and I've realised some of them have very cool designs. Here are some random images of said red envelopes I found on the internet.

I have chucked out some really nice ones in the past. I regret that now. I'd like to start a collection of them, turn them into a collage and hang it on my wall. That would be pretty and meaningful to me. I'm not really good at getting in touch with my creative side. I think I'm a creative person, but the pragmatic side of me doesn't make room for creativity. This is probably the one of the few creative things I'd like to do.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Speaking the truth in love

Last night, our Bible study groups kicked off for the year. A lot of the groups met together at church and we did an intro seminar on Ephesians 4:1-16. We spoke a bit about verse 15, "But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ." People spoke about it as rebuking and correcting each other in a loving manner, but I see it more than that. Speaking the truth in love can also be giving a word of encouragement.

When we struggle, we can lose perspective, lose sight of God. Speaking the truth in love in this case can be reminding each other that God loves you, cares for you, is in control etc. Encouragement is a great way to speak the truth in love.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Surprise Lord's Prayer.

We usually remember to pray before music practice at church. I decided to to the Lord's Prayer once. So the three of us shut our eyes while I recited it, and it was good but weird. And it seemed a lot more epic than music practice requires. As those familiar sentences loomed in my mind the split second before I said them out loud I kept feeling "wow". YOUR KINGDOM COME. FORGIVE US OUR SINS AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US. THE KINGDOM THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER. It was big stuff compared to what we normally pray at 4.10pm.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Use it or lose it.

Things last better when they are used. With a few exceptions. China breaks, DVDs scratch. But, I think there are only a few exceptions. Although books get a bit scuffed from being read, it still helps keeps them fresh, lets the air into the pages. Books that have sat closed on the shelf for years get spotted and musty, which is far worse. Same with shoes and bags and clothes. At my house, they get mouldy. Wearing them gets them out in the sun and fresh air.